Apple Subpoenas Amazon Interviews in Ebook Pricing Lawsuit

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Amazon apparently played a big role in the Department of Justice investigation into alleged ebook price fixing, and now Apple is requesting the DOJ turn over those interviews, and Amazon is fighting the request.

Apple wants Amazon's DOJ Conversations in CourtApple wants Amazon's DOJ Conversations in Court

Apple said in a filing last month that "Amazon was the driving force behind the Government's investigation," and that so far no one has been able to see what was discussed during the online retailer's meetings with DOJ officials, according to paidContent.

Apple along with several publishers were accused of colluding to drive up the price of ebooks with what has been called an agency-style pricing model. The system lets publishers set the price of books instead of retailers, and ultimately those publishers began pressuring Amazon into agreeing to the model.

Amazon said Apple and the publishers were intentionally trying to drive up ebook prices, while Apple countered that Amazon was selling books at artificially low prices and was using that to control the market.

Apple, Macmillan and Penguin all refused to settle with the DOJ and are scheduled for a trial over the matter inJune 2013. Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Hachette all agreed to the DOJ's terms, but Apple is planning on appealing that settlement.

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It clearly bothers Apple that Amazon was able to potentially sway the DOJ point of view without anyone being able to review exactly what was said, so it isn't any big surprise that they want notes and transcripts. Those documents may include information about Amazon's pricing practices, or at least comments the company would rather keep out of court, so it isn't a surprise that they're fighting the subpoena.

Amazon's desire to keep control over the ebook market is understandable, as is the idea that Apple and publishers want to see more competition. If Amazon can continue to undercut everyone else's prices, it sure doesn't look like there'll be much competition -- and then Amazon can set any price it likes for ebooks.

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